Four Approaches to Supposition

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8 (26):58-98 (2022)
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Suppositions can be introduced in either the indicative or subjunctive mood. The introduction of either type of supposition initiates judgments that may be either qualitative, binary judgments about whether a given proposition is acceptable or quantitative, numerical ones about how acceptable it is. As such, accounts of qualitative/quantitative judgment under indicative/subjunctive supposition have been developed in the literature. We explore these four different types of theories by systematically explicating the relationships canonical representatives of each. Our representative qualitative accounts of indicative and subjunctive supposition are based on the belief change operations provided by AGM revision and KM update respectively; our representative quantitative ones are offered by conditionalization and imaging. This choice is motivated by the familiar approach of understanding supposition as `provisional belief revision' wherein one temporarily treats the supposition as true and forms judgments by making appropriate changes to their other opinions. To compare the numerical judgments recommended by the quantitative theories with the binary ones recommended by the qualitative accounts, we rely on a suitably adapted version of the Lockean thesis. Ultimately, we establish a number of new results that we interpret as vindicating the often-repeated claim that conditionalization is a probabilistic version of revision, while imaging is a probabilistic version of update.

Author Profiles

Branden Fitelson
Northeastern University
Benjamin Eva
Duke University
Ted Shear
University of Colorado, Boulder


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